C-Wit ~Contemplative Whatever It Takes~

Hi everyone, this is Megumix.

Recently a big typhoon went through Japan and left a lot of scars. There are a lot of people still in evacuation centers, and it’s starting to get really cold all of a sudden. Please remember those who are dealing with physical and emotional pain right now, and let’s join in with others around the world who are praying.

 

In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss the JCFN sponsored retreat, C-WIT. In Japan, we recently held C-BBWIT that has the same content, but today we’ll share about the one that was held in Northern California.

 

C-WIT was planned by Sachi Nakamura (JCFN board member and spiritual counselor), Yuko Ozeki (JCFN staff), Yumi Shimada, and Makiko Nakao. Of these, I interviewed Makiko Nakao.

It was the first time for us to talk to each other and I was pretty nervous, so please imagine that as you read haha

 

Megumix: So let’s get right to it. What is C-WIT?

 

Makiko: It’s an abbreviation for Contemplative WIT (Whatever It Takes), and it’s a silent retreat for Christians. Sachi Nakamura came from Chicago to be our speaker. C-WIT was held twice in Chicago and once in LA in the past, so this time here in Northern California was the fourth time.

 

Megumix: A silent retreat… What exactly do you do?

 

Makiko: The program is about one full day, from morning until night. Lunch is held in silence.

 

Megumix: Really? What is that about?

 

Makiko: Basically, you just don’t talk. The minestrone soup we ate there was really good!

 

Megumix: But…you can’t comment about how good the food is with the people around you?

 

Makiko: That’s right. We stayed focused on our own thoughts and impressions and were able to enjoy the ingredients and colors that we might normally have overlooked. Through that, we were able to practice hearing God’s still, small voice.

 

Megumix: I see. So it was a different experience than eating while fellowshipping with the people around you. What else did you do? 

 

Makiko: In the afternoon, people took walks and painted stones, writing what they thought so far. There were also Scripture coloring pages.

 

Megumix: It seems like this program was planned so that people can interact with God while creating something or enjoying the scenery around them. How did you feel as a participant?

 

Makiko: For one thing, I think that people expect results when they do something, and they also expect the value that comes with those results. There are times that this value comes from other people, and times when it comes from oneself. However, I learned to let go of those results, rely on God, and joyfully walk with Jesus.

One more thing was that I was simply happy to experience that time! I know that between work and serving God, many of us are very busy. I think that sometimes we are joyful when we serve, but other times we push ourselves without realizing. We especially want people who feel that way to experience a time of silence.

 

*****

 

Makiko, thank you for the interview.

 

Thinking back on the interview, the thing that stuck with me the most was when Makiko talked about Sachi teaching that if you want to be blessed or receive something at the retreat, you first need to let go. It’s true that when we do things, we are thinking, “If I do this much, then I’ll receive this much result,” or “Since I wasn’t able to do anything, there’s nothing worth taking.” Therefore, when we love someone else or receive love from God, we unfortunately start to think about cost performance.

 

It’s important for all of us who think that way to spend time in silence and solitude and turn our hearts to God in order to be released from those ways of thinking and to receive God’s priceless love for us as we live for Him.

Megumix

Podcasts that I like (2)

Hello, this is Yuko again.

The podcast that I recently like, series no 2 is: …..

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership  by Ruth Haley Barton

This is the podcast that teaches us how important it is for Christian leaders to cultivate a habit of seeking deeper relationship with God. 

Recently, we JCFN staff are reading the book Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups (Transforming Resources) together and share our thoughts on monthly basis.  Our JCFN board member, Sachi-san leads us.  In this book, we are learning to discern God’s small voices so that we are able to make good decisions. The podcast helps me to understand this book better, too.

 

If you feel spiritual dryness as you lead a ministry, or if you have a desire to cultivate deeper level of relationship with God, this podcast shows concrete methods to do that.  If possible, listen from the very first series.  It introduces some exercise for spiritual formation, such as examen and lectio divina, which Sachi Nakamura introduces us to us in this blog, too!!

By the way, this Ruth talks very fast.  (^◇^;)

To Understand Returnees (2) How can I approach them? ― “Are returnees space aliens”? #2

For the booklet download:  LINK

The previous articles links.

Forward

  1. Who Are Returnees?
  2. How can I approach them? –“Are Returnees Space Aliens?” #1

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Point 2. How about experience at church in Japan before going overseas?

If he/she met a Christian, became friends or had contact with Christianity for the first time in their life during their stay overseas, it is apparent that the returnee had no experience at church/Christianity in Japan, so this should be considered when you guide him/her. If the returnee was a seeker in Japan, attended Sunday school when he/she was younger or is familiar with the Bible or service because he/she attended a Christian school, he/she knows what church in Japan is like to some extent, therefore confirming their prior experience is important.

 

Point 3. How was he/she involved in church outside Japan?

If the returnee attended a local church, he/she could have been treated as a guest (visitor). It is challenging for most Japanese to be involved in church activities in an environment where there are many people and a language barrier. Therefore it is possible that the returnee has no experience in serving.

Meanwhile, in the case of a Japanese Church・JCF, like the businessman in Case 2, often people are actively involved in serving soon after baptism (sometimes even during the stage of seeking) as the church needs to be supported by only a few people.

If he/she is saved at a Japanese church or fellowship such as a home Bible study hosted by a Japanese Christian, it is possible that the returnee was actively serving in the group. It is helpful to know this background information as well.

 

Point 4. How did the returnee develop their faith? Baptism?

You may think that the question to confirm the spiritual situation of the returnee should be asked earlier, but if the returnee says that he/she was “baptized” at a local church, it is different from the case that he/she is baptized after preparing for baptism and being taught what it means to be a member of church. Thus I believe that the earlier questions are more meaningful considering the importance of this issue.
In case of a Japanese church, many times, a Japanese pastor is providing some sort of learning opportunities before he/she is baptized, so you may confirm how he/she prepared, how much he/she was taught about church and being a member of a church.

If the returnee was baptized at a local church, since some church baptizes ones who wish to be “baptized,” like Ms. A in the first case, it is important to ask, “How he/she was prepared,” and “how the Christian life was led by those who were baptized at the church.” For example, in the UK, a so-called “Christian nation,” as a part of a state church tradition, baptism mainly means infant baptism, and it is common that even nonbelievers have their child baptized when he/she is a baby, just like Omiyamairi* in Japan (*Omiyamairi literary means a visit to shrine. It is a Shinto ritual that occurs when a baby is about 1 month old. They wear special white clothes for the ceremony, and have a special kimono draped over them. As the baby’s grandparents hold him/her, the priest presents the news of the birth to the guardian spirit of the shrine, and offers thanks. He then asks the spirit to protect the baby and keep him/her healthy.). Those who were baptized as Christians attend the same “diocese” wherever they move to, therefore the sense as being a “member of a church” does not exist in general. (Of course, Baptist churches and established churches exist in the UK as well.) Although there is no such a diocese system in the US, Australia・New Zealand, there are many churches that are not conscious about the church membership system, therefore it is not rare to be baptized on the day when one prays for confession. Thus it is often the case that there is a significant difference between being baptized at a local church or at a Japanese church. At a Japanese church, being baptized means becoming a member of the church in many cases, however, baptism at church outside Japanese purely mean the confession of one’s faith.

It is also a rare case, but sometimes when we ask the returnee about their confession of faith in detail, he/she just could not say, “no” when they were asked if they believe in God,” because his/her friend in the area took care of him/her very well and taught Bible politely with patience. This is difficult to understood by non-Japanese.

to be continued…..

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